Herbie Mann – London Underground (K 50032) (1974)

Purchased from the same crate as this Lonnie Smith record, London Underground makes even more explicit its desire to reach out to the rock audience. A companion piece to Mann’s earlier Memphis Underground, the London Lp sees the jazz flautist harnessing some of the cream of Britain’s young musicians (Albert Lee, Al Gorry, Aynsley Dunbar, Robbie McIntosh, Ian McDonald) to tackle a brace of “sixeventies” classics (Layla, Something In the Air, Whiter Shade o’ Pale), despite his instrument’s flowery breathiness ill-suiting the genre. Mann gets a lot of stick for the unevenness of his bandwagon jumping (e.g. bossa, disco, reggae) and so it goes here.  His playing and players, obviously, are top flight, and when they catch fire, as on the Stones’ “Bitch” with Mick Taylor reprising his role in full “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”/”Time Waits For No-One” extended solo mode, things well and truly rock. Elsewhere, however, Mann recasts rock melodies as funky mellow and comes off less well. It’s an interesting record and at least he kept his shirt on for this one.

How about this, a grey Atlantic label. Not as sexy as the purple, I know.

Published in: on December 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. the flute is one of my favourite instruments… but sadly herbie is far from my favourite flautist! whatever musical carriage he hitches a ride on, his playing is always far too high-pitched, over-busy and shrill to these ears – in fact he usually ends up giving me a headache! (and my eyes react in a similar manner whenever i see his exposed hairy chest ha ha)

    give me the breathy “growl” flute style of harold mcnair any day…

  2. grey vs purple sex debate requires some more thought but it’s this type of shizzle that keeps us thrifty vinyl regulars quite tickled, thank you very much

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